XF 2.2 Activity summary email

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So you've got people to register on your forum and they've made their initial contribution, but once they've done that, how do you keep those members engaged and coming back to your forum? It's an age-old problem. A user registers, they may participate for a while if you're lucky, and then it's really a toss-up as to whether they will stay and become a semi-permanent fixture of your forum, or you never see them again.

Of all the challenges facing forum owners, this one requires the most creative approaches. There are various existing features that are geared towards keeping your members engaged. They can receive alerts, push notifications or emails when content is posted in threads or forums they watch, or you can manually email members periodically to keep them updated with the latest goings-on at your forum. These approaches aren't always effective as they either require explicit action from the user to designate the kind of content in which they are interested, or they require manual intervention from you to create some sort of newsletter.

There must be a better way, right? Well of course there is, or this would be a really short and slightly pointless post.

Activity summary

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The "Activity summary" is an email, periodical receipt of which your members can opt into, which will give them an overview of what they have missed since their last visit to your forum.

A look at the configuration...

Firstly, of course you may switch the feature off entirely if you wish. Though we're not quite sure why you'd want to, as it's awesome.

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We then have three values with which we can control the timing and frequency of when emails should be sent. The defaults are reasonable for most cases and are for the most part self explanatory. By default, we stop sending the activity summary email if the user has been inactive for 6 months, users fitting those criteria are probably a lost cause, but you can override the default and continue sending email to these users indefinitely by setting the value to 0 days.

Registered forum members may opt themselves in or out of receiving the email from their Privacy or Preferences pages:

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Although the "Receive news and update emails" can be toggled independently of the new "Receive activity summary email", we only display the former on registration, but if checked then we will opt the user into the activity summary emails too.

Of course the user can unsubscribe at any time.

You don't know the power of the dark side

Dramatic and irrelevant quote aside, the real power of the system comes from how you can configure the contents of the activity summary email.

In fact, the activity summary isn't just a list of threads but is instead built up using content sections that you can finely configure. Out of the box, these sections are set up to fetch the latest content, but there are several additional filters to allow you to narrow down the content returned in the way you see fit.

For example, you could have a section return the most active threads based on reply count, or the most popular threads based on reaction score. This makes for a much more targeted approach than simply grabbing the latest items, and will be particularly useful for large and busy forums where it will be important to only return the best content from a sea of noise.

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From here you can add additional sections, delete existing sections or change the order that sections appear.

Let's look at how you can change the behaviour of "Latest threads" to only show the latest threads from a specific forum.

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What we've done now is changed the activity summary so that instead of showing the 5 most recent threads from any forum, instead it will show only 2 of the most recent threads from a specific forum.
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We can see those changes reflected in the email, but you can also add additional sections, even if you have previously used that type before. So we can click "Add activity summary section" and add yet another "Latest threads" section.

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This time we'll configure it to pull from the HYS forum. And then we can even add another which can pull from the "General" forum.
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Extensibility

Initially, we will be providing an "activity summary definition" for "Latest threads" and "Latest posts", but as you would expect from XenForo, the system is built with extensibility in mind, and there is plenty of scope for third party developers to build definitions for their own add-on content, allowing forum owners to expand the reach of their activity summaries. For our part, we will be extending support for other first-party XenForo content types as soon as possible.
 

Hoffi

Well-known member
I saw a UI bug on the first page of this thread, FYI:
View attachment 227461

My on-topic question, which I didn't see much discussion on in this thread:

This feature seems awesome. But how would it work with not having these emails going to spam boxes? And server email limits? Most of us use external email services for newsletters and other mass emails. But how does this built in system work?
I would assume it uses the same channel as the register emails. It's up to you, to have a good mail system enabled. This does not change this for me.
 

Astra

Active member
Previously, there was such a function on the VB forum, a birthday greeting was sent. And it seems to be such nonsense, but users came in or replied to these letters of thanks. They were very pleased that we did not forget about them. Make such a template, it would be useful to those who need this function, in women's forums it is very popular.
 

Stuart Wright

Well-known member
Very happy to see this. A lot of people use AndyB's weekly digest addon which sends out emails every Saturday by default.
The only problem with that, and one which I can see could potentially be a problem here is that some of the threads might be popular but not ones that you particularly want to send out in such an email. A lot of threads are popular because they are controversial.
And so it might be worth considering some kind of pre-send curation stage where you get presented with several threads to send and can untick the ones you want to omit. Otherwise, I can't think of a reason not to love this.
 

shimspedy

Well-known member
Very happy to see this. A lot of people use AndyB's weekly digest addon which sends out emails every Saturday by default.
i think the only problem i have had is that if your using your hosting mailing .. your limited to 200 emails only... maybe this will solve that..
 

Astra

Active member
And it would be great if at least 3-5 templates for letters were added. For example, congratulatory, warning, informing, ordinary.
 

cdub

Well-known member
And it would be great if at least 3-5 templates for letters were added. For example, congratulatory, warning, informing, ordinary.
That seems like it goes beyond the scope of this feature. KISS

An add-on could easily extend this for more functions...
 

Kirby

Well-known member
Already two suggestions regarding this new feature :)

 
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Kacee

Active member
Do you have an ETA for 2.2? This update has something that I really need and it would be nice to know an ETA to adjust my plan accordingly.
 

Sunka

Well-known member
There is a "Send test email" button but there's no physical "Send" button to trigger this generally. The email is sent automatically to users who have opted in and the contents is automatically generated based on the settings and sections you have configured.
If I understand correctly, we could not see mail except sending to all users who opt in before or send only to superadmin?
It is very hard to correct errors (translating phrases, change colors...) when we could not send test mails only to our selves.

Also, another question...
Is it possible that snippet of filtered threads show in e-mail last posts in that thread, not first post.
If you have 40 threads which are very popular, then every week people will see same posts in e-mails, first post.

And third question, is it possible for admins to choose when (time) e-mails will be sent?

If all is unpossible, hope that at least 1 will be future option in @DragonByte Tech addon which I am using for this.

Thank you
 

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
If I understand correctly, we could not see mail except sending to all users who opt in before or send only to superadmin?
It is very hard to correct errors (translating phrases, change colors...) when we could not send test mails only to our selves.
You can test the email by sending it to yourself via the method mentioned previously.

Also, another question...
Is it possible that snippet of filtered threads show in e-mail last posts in that thread, not first post.
If you have 40 threads which are very popular, then every week people will see same posts in e-mails, first post.
The option to only include threads "Created since last email" is useful for this. The "Latest posts" section would surface posts that aren't necessarily the first post of the thread. You can change the order so you may be more interested in displaying "Latest posts" first.

And third question, is it possible for admins to choose when (time) e-mails will be sent?
You can modify the cron entry if desired (or create a new one and disable the default one).
 
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